Nashoba At Night Goes Online Amid Pandemic

WESTFORD, MA — Amid pandemic, it seems like everyone has had to make adjustments to

WESTFORD, MA — Amid pandemic, it seems like everyone has had to make adjustments to how things are done. Nashoba Valley Technical High School’s Nashoba at Night adult-education program has also pivoted. But the refocus comes at a time when some trades are looking for new employees.

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.4 million across the US in August, reflecting the continued resumption of economic activity across the nation since the coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted employment in March and April, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’re focusing on career-enhancing and licensure training programs right now,” Nashoba Tech’s director of Postsecondary & Community Education Jobee O’Sullivan said. “There is a big demand for all of these programs. More people are retiring now than there are workers to fill their spots.”

Nashoba at Night is using in-person learning when it can maintain distancing requirements, but it’s also using Google Meet for online courses. The night school is still teaching a class for journeyman electrical code, automotive basics, and digital photography.

Employment of electricians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I had an eight-week in-person class slated to go last March but had to cancel it due to the pandemic,” O’Sullivan said. “So the instructor said to me, ‘Let’s offer classes that give people basic how-to information using what they have access to at home.’”

And so they made it happen. The plan is for an in-person auto repair class to happen sometime in the months that follow.

The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has also approved Nashoba Tech’s Chapter 74 programs in Carpentry and Electrical, with approvals pending for Dental Assisting, Early Childhood Education, Advanced Manufacturing and Practical Nursing.

O’Sullivan was part of the state’s first-ever virtual safety audit of a post-secondary program when DESE officials virtually toured Nashoba Tech’s newly renovated Dental Assisting and Health Assisting facilities.

“Barring any unexpected delays, we anticipate having Dental Assisting and Early Childhood program approvals by the end of 2020,” she said. “The hope is to have those programs approved and start to accept and process applications in the winter for enrollment in fall 2021.”

The state’s workforce is seeing high demand for careers that require industry-approved technical training like that provided by the Post-Secondary Education program at Nashoba Tech, according to O’Sullivan.

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This article originally appeared on the Westford Patch

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